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Lake County cuts courtesy school busing program, affecting 3,000 students

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A few thousand Lake County parents recently learned their children will no longer get a bus ride to and from school.

In June, the school board voted to end what's called "courtesy busing" to save money. That means students living within two miles of a school will no longer get be bused.

But many parents only learned about the decision this week, just two weeks before school starts.

Over summer vacation, many parents naturally aren't as tuned in to what the school board does so when the notices arrived this week, it started some trouble, said Channel 9's Berndt Petersen.

"We have little kids," said parent Jamie Mullins of Mount Dora. "There's no way they can cross the main highway. I know this year one of these babies will get hit."

"There's a lot of parents in this neighborhood that aren't able to take their kids either to or from school. And if they're not able to take them, the only option is walking," said parent Jason Haigley.

Haigley said to get to Triangle Elementary School, a-mile-and-a-half away, it means crossing busy U.S. 441 and Route 19. With no sidewalks or crosswalks, even Haigley's 8-year-old said he knows it's not safe.

"The only thing I'd rather have on each place is those things that tell you when to walk and when to stop," said third-grader Benjamin Haigley.

The district's budget was $16 million short this fiscal year and courtesy busing was one of the programs the board cut. It affects 3,000 students, most of them in elementary school, saving $650,000.

"Instead of going cheap on the safety, they need to go cheap somewhere else," said Mullins. "They need to start cutting the budget in the office and leave the safety issues alone."

Mullins said she is organizing a parent protest for the school board's next meeting.